US imposes sanctions on Iranian officials for crackdown on protests

WASHINGTON: On Wednesday, Oct. 26, the United States targeted Iranian officials, including those guarding Evin prison in Tehran, and others under new sanctions against Iran for internet censorship and the repression of the demonstrations triggered by the death of Mahsa Amini in police custody.

The protests following the September 16 death in custody of the 22-year-old have become one of the boldest challenges to Iran’s religious leaders since the 1979 revolution.

Wednesday’s sanctions marking 40 days since Amini’s death are the latest round imposed by Washington on Iran’s crackdown on protests, as the United States seeks to increase pressure on Tehran.

“We will continue to find ways to support the people of Iran as they peacefully demonstrate to defend their human rights and fundamental freedoms, and in doing so we will continue to impose costs on individuals and entities in Iran who engage in brutal repression of the Iranian people,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement.

The US Treasury Department, in a separate statement, said it had imposed sanctions on Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) officials, including the commander of its intelligence organization, as well as officials of provincial prisons and Iranians and individuals and entities related to Internet censorship.

Wednesday’s decision targets Hedayat Farzadi, whom the Treasury has accused of running Evin prison as warden. The prison primarily holds political prisoners, and Washington says many protesters were sent there, where it says they were subjected to torture.

The Treasury accused Farzadi of overseeing the torture and mistreatment of prisoners in Iran’s prison system before taking over Evin’s leadership, and said he was known to have carried out public executions and amputations. Several prisoners under his charge have died, the Treasury said.

Evin holds political prisoners and many detainees facing security charges, including Iranians with dual nationality. Iranian-American businessman Siamak Namazi is being held in Evin.

Seyyed Heshmatollah Hayat Al-Ghaib, the director general of prisons in Tehran province – who the treasury said gave him oversight of Evin – was also named in Wednesday’s action.

Wardens of several other prisons in Iran have also been appointed, as well as general directors of prisons in provinces including Kurdistan.

Hossein Modarres Khiabani, the governor of Sistan and Balochistan province, where the Treasury said some of the worst violence in the latest round of protests took place, was also targeted.

Two members of Iran’s Intelligence and Security Ministry were also named, along with the Ravin Academy founded by them, which the Treasury says trains people in cybersecurity and hacking and recruits candidates for the ministry.

The Iranian company Samane Gostar Sahab Pardaz Private Ltd Co, which Washington says provides censorship, surveillance and espionage tools to the Iranian government, was also named.

Iran’s mission to the United Nations in New York did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The US action freezes all US assets belonging to the named individuals and generally bars Americans from doing business with them. Those who negotiate with them in certain transactions also risk being hit with penalties.

A wide range of Iranians have taken to the streets since Amini’s death, with some calling for the fall of the Islamic Republic and chanting “Death to (Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali) Khamenei”.

Rights groups said at least 250 protesters were killed, including teenage girls, and thousands were arrested.

Authorities, who have accused the United States and other Western countries of fomenting what they call “riots”, have yet to announce the death toll, but state media said a thirty members of the security forces had been killed.

Gunmen attacked a Shia Muslim shrine in the Iranian city of Shiraz on Wednesday, killing at least 15 people, state news agency IRNA reported, as security forces clashed with protesters marking 40 days since the death of Shiraz. Amini.

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